Monday September 29

by Claire

Waking up was hard. My whole body was stiff and in pain, and somehow thinking made my body hurt even more. I gave it a few goes but ended up sleeping in until 10.30.

It was like my brain was missing a link and I just drifted aimlessly for about an hour; I stood outside with Nelson for a bit, took out the bins, did a lot of standing and staring at nothing in particular, picked things up and put them down for no reason… Guy finds this behaviour trying, mostly because our home is small and I’m difficult to navigate around when I blob around with no purpose.

I finally got into the morning routine and did my stretches, but I was already too tired to do the core strength exercises (six static poses of five breaths each – not much, but I like that I’m starting to work out). Breakfast and pills gave me a zing of energy and I decided to tackle my to-do list. I settled into bed with a wheat bag, laptop and phone and got going. I think I spent three hours paying bills and answering e-mails, including one hour spent on hold with Centrelink and half an hour actually talking to someone to try and untangle the red tape that feels like it’s strangling me. Guy was really helpful while this was happening – he would pop in and pat my feet if I’d been on hold for a while, or poke his head in and just look at me nicely if I was getting upset while trying to explain the situation. I also had a phone meeting with my Skills Plus case worker. If you are on the disability pension and under 35 you now have to have a meeting every two weeks with a case worker to help you reach a goal of 17 hours per week of work or study. I can see how this might be useful for some people with some disabilities, but it’s a policy that was done to punish Joe Hockey’s “leaners”: the bludgers who are taking advantage of the hand-out system. If the goal was to help people with disabilities enter the workforce, there are other, better options. (like making workplaces disability-friendly, or putting money down for increased medical care, mobility aids etc.) Instead, we are throwing money away so thousands of disabled people can have the following conversation EVERY TWO WEEKS:

pension meeting

A hot shower really helped me wash away all the stress of the last two phone calls, and then Guy came on my afternoon walk with Nelson. We strolled around the block, but it was extremely slow; more of a shuffle than a walk, me leaning on Guy for support. Even though I was in bed all afternoon, mental exertion really tires me out physically and I couldn’t have walked anywhere by myself.

Guy drove us all over to my parents for dinner – I used the drive to focus on my breath and rest in preparation for the exertion of conversation. When I got there I just sat on the couch like a lazy slug while Mum made dinner for us. She doesn’t mind, I know, but I always feel so selfish in these situations. It was really good to chat to my parents over dinner, but we left as soon as it was marginally acceptable for us to do so – I was starting to space out and slur my words I was so tired.

Things I couldn’t do today:
Go to work from 8.30-5. Make my own lunch. Go for a walk that counted in any way as exercise. Help Mum in the kitchen, or even stand there politely while she cooked. Have a conversation without extreme concentration and difficulty at any point during the day.

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